Okay, we've got a ratel in a pit, me and my brother with a banana-tree-trunk, four innertubes, a chicken and a peanut sack; and Brigadier-Captain Azikiwe.
Oh, and Azikiwe's two bodyguards.
Before I go any further, I want it noted for the record that Chris and I had nothing to do with Azikiwe getting bodyguards. That was Not Our Fault. We were Innocent Bystanders on that one.
Right after we discovered the wonder of Ammonium Tri-iodide -- which led to the unfortunate incident with the back-door-steps (Word to the Wise: Sapper lizards. Good theory; bad practice) -- which led to the permanent, and mysterious, disappearance of our chemistry sets, one of Dad's engineer buddies gave us a book on medieval siege weaponry.
Immediately and thoroughly fascinated by the subject, Chris and I constructed a trebuchet out of 2 X 4 timbers and a bucket of concrete which flung croquet balls an impressive distance, for all that it stood about four feet tall.
Our efforts and subsequent activities were watched with great interest by the horde of not-quite-drunk-yet engineers who were more-or-less permanently encamped at our house.
Whom, once Chris and I decided to upgrade our trebuchet, began to give us advice. And maybe some guidance. A little oversight. And a lent paw here-and-there.
Of course, they wound up taking over.
Not that we minded so much -- especially after someone fired up the arc welder.
The results were absolutely beautemous. The counterweight was drill pipe. A lot of drill pipe. The business arm was almost up to the house eaves when unloaded. Needed a winch truck to drag it into firing position.
Like I said: beautemous.
Once complete, Mom, being less-intoxicated than the rest of the bunch (note that I did not say 'sober'), drove us the hundred yards to the scrap-field behind the office, where us kids helped the adults stack a bunch of empty 55-gallon drums three deep as a simulated castle wall so that we'd have a proper target for our Engine of Doom, and Mom hung a suitably defiant tablecloth as a flag for the rebellious defenders.
Then ... the Moment of Truth. Dad fetched his 16-pound bowling ball from the closet. Mom ceremoniously poured a beer over it, before it was loaded into the sling, and after a respectful pause, Dad's Brit Buddy whacked the firing pin with a sledge-hammer.
The result was ... magnificent. I never saw the arm move. One moment it was down, the next moment it was vertical. And the sound. A mighty crash it was.
"Did it go?"
"Oh, hell, yes."
"I told you [hic] the release hook needed more hook."
"'S'going, [gurgle] innit?"
"Aye, but maybe more..." a finger pointed somewhat horizontally, "...'n' less..." the finger pointed more-or-less vertically.
"Dear," said Dad, somewhat bemusedly, "Did we bring the range rover back?"
Mom waved the keys at him.
"Oh," sloshed a Brit engineer, "'Oo the hell is that [hic] then?"
"Isn't that that little [hiccup] sticky-fingered chappie with uniform? Sneezy?"
Sure enough, down there in the middle of the company scrap-field -- having had to open a couple of gates to get there, I might add -- was Brigadier-Captain Azikiwe. And his Nigerian-Army-Issue Land Cruiser. Which was parked about twenty feet away from the wall of Barrel Castle, where Azikiwe was ...
"Is he STEALING MY TABLECLOTH?!"
Sure enough. Apparently, after having successfully infiltrated private land, and a gate, and then company land, and another gate, Azikiwe had spotted a perfectly good tablecloth hanging on some barrels and had decided -- out of the kindness of his heart, you understand -- to give this abandoned tablecloth a loving home. And had clambered to the top of Barrel Castle wall in his philanthropic endeavour.
"Oh, hard luck, old girl."
"He can't ... I didn't ... That little ... How DARE ..."
About that time, Azikiwe's Nigerian-Army-Issue Land Cruiser suddenly kind of bottomed-out. And the window glass kind of sprayed across the scrap-yard, along with the roof sort of crumpling up, followed by this wonderfully baritone CRUMP sound.
"Cor..." opined the witnesses. Glass clinked off glass, and then off teeth. There was a Contemplative Moment.
"A skosh [hic] right, I think."
"Nah, a bit more [gurgle] than a skosh, I'd say."
"Izzat a military term [hic] ?"
"And more hook to the hook."
Chris and I hared off to the scrap-yard to retrieve our bowling ball ordnance, which turned out to not be very difficult, since the drivers side door of the Land Cruiser (One ea., Nigerian Army Issue) was laying in the dirt.
We had just pried the bowling ball out of the drivers seat, and were scooting back to the trebuchet when one of the palm trees lining the fence of the scrap yard said, and I quote: "PidginpidginpidginDEVIL CHILDRENpidginpidgin!"
Sure enough, peering from the top of the palm tree was the Brigadier-Captain. Looked damned odd without his aviator glasses and corn-cob pipe, and the ashy sheen to his face clashed terribly with the gilt on the uniform, but it was definently him.
Figuring that this was one of those Adult Situations Mom and Dad had told us about, we returned to the house, the palm tree still shrieking curses at us.
"He still there?"
"He's in one of the palm trees over by the right-hand gate."
"Not for long he's bloody well not," giggled an engineer as he lovingly placed a wicker laundry hamper full of empty beer cans on the sling.
Which doesn't sound altogether too bad, until you realize that beer cans back then were made out of steel.
Didn't even come close to Azikiwe, but the racket of the ensuing multiple impacts in the general neighborhood caused the Brigadier-Captain to retreat under fire, as it were, legging it down the road to safety, and leaving his issue Land Cruiser as a war trophy, repatriated back to the Nigerian Army only after six weeks of negotiations and conditions.
And somehow, he wound up blaming Chris and me for this.
I don't know what he was whinging about, anyway. He got bodyguards out of it, didn't he?
Anyhoo, there we were. Ratel. Pit. Bodyguards.
Oops. I hear the call to supper.
Oh, well. We'll get the tale told sooner or later.